“it’S jUSt A pHaSe”

Ananya Zharotia

What is Heteronormativity?

 

There’s a lot of internalised homophobia, transphobia and biphobia that we’re raised with. It is rooted in the definition that being heterosexual and cisgender is the norm. There’s a word for this- heteronormativity. It is commonly faced by people of all sexualities. Personally as a lesbian, heteronormaitvity came into being when I used to identify as bisexual or queer because I thought that I had to like men being a girl. For different people, the experience varies. For many bisexual people that I’ve spoken to, heteronormativity manifests itself in the infamous phrase “its just a phase”. Of course in many cases biphobia can be at play from both a heterosexual as well as homosexual perspective. In this article, I will delve into the heterosexual perspective .

 

What does it look like?

 

From many stories that I’ve heard, the heteronormative in us makes us feel like what we’re feeling isn’t real- maybe it’s just a phase, maybe it’s not normal. “It's not normal” may sound mundane but for so many people it’s a voice in their head nagging them, telling them there’s something wrong with them. It is a phrase that can make people rethink everything they feel and essentially invalidate themselves by implying that people who aren’t straight are not “regular people”. That’s also why people have to “come out”.  People assume and define attraction in such a way that people have to literally break down something that they have believed their whole life, unlearn the toxic rigidity that has been applied to romantic and sexual attraction and rebuild just to feel normal. 

 

How to undo heteronormativity?

 

Heteronormativity is extremely deep rooted in our society. It will take a long time for us to reverse the direction that we have headed in for so long. But all change is a process.
Here are a few things that you can do on your own to undo the heteronormative in you. 

  • Educate yourself: Learn about different types of attractions that you or someone else could possibly have, different sexualities, genders, and so much more.  

  • Never assume that someone is straight: As hard as this may be and as ridiculous as it may sound to some people, this is one of the biggest reasons people don’t feel normal and can cause a lot of mental deterioration. 

  • Educate other people: There’s a lot of people who don’t realise that they have deep rooted heteronormativity in them and would be more than open to undoing it if they understand what it is, or if it was brought to their attention. 

  • Spread awareness: Spreading awareness not only indicates that you are a safe person to come out to but also makes the world a little safe one person at a time.